WhatClinic.com And The Changing Face Of The Health Care Industry
On a trip around South East Asia, Caelen King, the CEO of WhatClinic.com, found himself in need of a small medical procedure, but quickly realised he didn’t know where to go, how much he could expect to pay, or how to tell if any particular clinic was trusted and recommended by its existing patients. He didn’t think this was particularly strange at the time though. He was a visitor in a foreign country and didn’t have any local knowledge or local friends to ask. He found a clinic as best he could and went ahead with the treatment.
However, a few years later when he was back in Ireland he found himself in almost exactly the same situation again. Even though he was at home he found it hard to get access to the information he felt he needed to make a decision about where to go to for the treatment he needed at the time, and suddenly an idea was born.
The internet had already been used to great effect in other industries to make access to information more readily available and increase consumer choice, so why not in the health care industry?
Public Health Services
To answer Caelen’s question we need to take a look at how people have traditionally accessed health care services. The family doctor is usually the first port of call, then a referral is made to a public hospital or clinic for further treatment if needed.
This reliance on the local doctor and other public health care services means that in many cases patients choose to go with their default treatment option, i.e. whatever their doctor tells them to do. So, for these patients there simply hasn’t been the need for more information or, for that matter, choice.
However governments all over the world are increasingly finding it difficult to fund their public health services. They try to educate their citizens about how best to manage and improve their health, and their motives for doing so are obvious. A healthier society is a more productive society, and it also reduces the governments’ annual health care bills.
Unfortunately though, the message doesn’t seem to be getting through to the citizens and as a result public health systems all over the world are struggling to deal with a myriad of problems that seem to be spiralling out of control and costing governments a fortune. Take a look at the obesity problem in the UK:
“The UK is the fattest nation in Europe; one third of children and nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. At this rate, by 2050 obesity will be costing the state £32bn a year.”
Source: BBC Panorama
In Ireland, due to a massive decline in tax revenue the government has cut back on funding for all but the most basic dental care and provides treatment for the only the neediest patients. Any major dental work needs to be funded by patients themselves.
The Self Paying Patient
The squeeze on public health care funding and curtailment of treatment options means more and more people are turning to self funded health care options, and being exposed sometimes for the first time to the private health care market, paying for treatments out of their own pocket or using private health insurance.
The idea of the local doctor being the primary source of information and guidance for patients is changing too. As far back as 2006 79% of people surveyed in the UK cited the internet as one of their “three most frequently used sources of information when [looking] for health-related information”. This compares to 85% who cited their doctor.
Source: Oglivy Healthworld UK Survey, conducted by Millward Brown (Sept 2006)
However patients looking for treatment and turning to the internet for information about private clinics are running into their own set of difficulties. Not all clinics have a website, and those that do often don’t publish the information the patient needs, be it fees and prices, opening hours or even a simple phone number.
The Need For WhatClinic.com
Patients are now by necessity and by choice taking a more active role in managing their own health care needs, but to do so effectively they have to be able to access all the information they need without having to jump through hoops to get it.
That’s where WhatClinic.com comes in. We exist to help patients get treated. By providing as much information as possible about as many clinics as possible and making the information easy to find, patients are now able to compare their options, make informed choices and contact clinics without having to spend hours or days searching every nook and cranny of the internet.
For example, a patient can search for a private dentist in Manchester and be presented with a list of dental clinics along with additional information including treatment lists, reviews and testimonials. They can just as easily find individual clinics by searching for the clinic name or a member of staff.
Patients make contact with the clinics by email or by phone, and set up appointments or ask for quotes. We prompt the clinics to respond quickly and also provide patients with feedback about the clinics’ customer service in advance in order to avoid wasting time with clinics that don’t respond or pick up the phone. We follow up with patients a few weeks later to make sure they got the treatment they needed, and if they didn’t we help them start the process over again.
In order to improve patients’ experiences with the clinics on WhatClinic.com we provide clinics with advanced features including a CRM system and a telephone booking service to help them manage their patient enquiries more efficiently, which ultimately helps the patient towards their goal of having the treatment they want.
An Additional Marketing Channel For Private Clinics
By providing this service we have not only become a hub of activity for self paying patients but also created a new online marketing channel for private clinics in addition to their own websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
It is this idea of working with both sides of the private health care system that makes WhatClinic.com unique. We provide a valuable service to patients for free and help clinics manage new and existing patients more efficiently and more cost effectively than they would on their own.
Public Versus Private Health Care
There is an ongoing debate all over the world about whether or not governments should provide health care to all for free, but it is never actually free. If you don’t pay for it out of pocket or with health insurance, you have already paid for it through income taxation.
The issue really boils down to a couple of questions:
- Are governments the best people to manage the provision of health care?
- Should governments force citizens to pay in advance for their health care (through income taxation or forced insurance contributions)?
There are no easy answers to either question, and political allegiances often colour the debate depending on which country you are in, but there is no getting around the fact that with increased access to information more and more patients want to take some amount of control over their health care needs, and for those that do WhatClinic.com is there to help.
Helping Patients Get Treated
WhatClinic.com exists to help patients get treated. Whether they need a local doctor or dentist, a plastic surgeon or beauty technician, a fertility expert or laser eye surgeon, we show patients as many options as we can, help them choose and contact a suitable clinic, and ultimately help them get treated.